Friends and family gathered at Calvary Baptist Church Sunday afternoon to pay tribute and celebrate the life of Devin Mitchell, the Starkville High School student and athlete who died on New Year’s morning.
An overflow crowd came to the church, and many did not make it inside the doors.
As friends came around to pay their final respects, a slide presentation with photos of Mitchell at school, on the athletic fields and among friends was shown prior to the service.
Just as Mitchell’s mother requested, the Yellowjacket football team came to the service together wearing black jerseys.
“It broke our hearts to lose you,” said linebacker David Fair during his remarks. “But you didn’t go alone. Part of us went with you.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you,” Fair added. “You are not forgotten, Devin.”
Other expressions were given by church member Percy Jones and mentor Larry “Luv” Johnson, several songs were played as a way of celebration and praise, scripture was read by Revs. Joseph Stone, Embry Jackson and Eddie Longstreet, and tributes were offered by Starkville High School football coach Jamie Mitchell and others.
“The thing I’ll remember about Devin is his smile and his silliness,” coach Mitchell said as his voice began to crack with emotion. “He had a ton of silliness. He had speed and he was gifted with so much ability.
“As a young sophomore two years ago, I’ll never forget him walking through our weight room. He attached himself to two of our seniors who were bigger, stronger and were rocks of our program,” he added. “That’s who Devin wanted to be around.”
Coach Mitchell began his remarks by saying Devin is getting better coaching that he could ever give and he’s now with Bear Bryant and Vince Lombardi. Coach Mitchell said he can also see Devin playing football with Walter Payton and Reggie White.
“I’m sure he’s learning a few things from them, but I’ll bet he is teaching them as well,” Coach Mitchell said.
A resolution was read by Robin Perry and acknowledgments were issued by Shirley Floyd; the eulogy was delivered by Pastor Maggie Little.
During Little’s remarks, she talked about how Devin always came to Bible study with a positive attitude and a message of “every day is a good day,” and “trust the Lord and it will all work out.”
At the end of the service, Coach Mitchell led the team in the Lord’s prayer and the Yellowjackets chanted, “We are Starkville.”
The Devin Mitchell family expressed appreciation to Pastor Grant Arinder and Calvary Baptist Church for opening their doors for the service. In return, Arinder said his church was willing to help the family in any way possible.